Rules for Radical Conservatives

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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Michael Walsh, the founding editor of, the former music critic of Time Magazine, and the author of eleven books, including Hostile Intent and the recently published Early Warning (Pinnacle Books).  Writing as “David Kahane,” he has just published Rules for Radical Conservatives: Beating the Left at Its Own Game to Take Back America. (Ballantine).

FP: Michael Walsh, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Let’s begin with what inspired you to write this book.

Walsh: Like most conservatives, I was tired of seeing the Right get smacked around all the time by the Left, and never fighting back.  Even though Bush was not a true conservative, it was still exasperating watching him turn into a piñata that the Left could gleefully batter with absolutely no fear of reprisal.  Rules for Radical Conservatives is payback time. Fortunately, I knew just the man to take on the job: my alter-ego, “David Kahane,” who’s been writing in the pages of National Review Online for the past three years.  “Kahane” is a dyed-in-the-red-diaper baby who seeks to explain the way of Hollywood and the Left to the whiny losers on the Right, but even he had had enough: Rules (the sulfuric evocation of Alinsky is entirely intentional) is, as Ann Coulter says, “the manual for the counter-revolution.”

FP: So, in your view, why doesn’t the Right know how to fight?

Walsh: Because it plays by the wrong rules. Politics, especially as practiced by the hard Left since the 1960s, is not a place for turning the other cheek.  The Right foolishly believes that because its principles are better and nobler than those of the Left, it will win in the marketplace of ideas.  The Left, on the other hand, knows that the Right’s principles are better and truer, which is why it is always so desperate to discredit them, by any means necessary.  One of the inspirations for Rules is Milton’s Paradise Lost, so draw your own conclusions.

FP: Why does the Right consistently underestimate the nature of the enemy?

Walsh: Because it is has lost one very fundamental animating principle — or, rather, it has allowed the Left to browbeat it to death.  I speak of course of the existence of evil.  Western civilization, for all its imperfections (which the Left is only to happy to point out a la Alinsky’s rule of making the enemy live up to its own highest ideals), triumphed because of its moral center.  It was that moral center that gave rise to the art, music, literature, philosophy and technology that propelled Western European civilization past its rivals.  For some reason, the Left feels compelled to destroy that civilization and I must say it’s doing a fine job.

Until conservatives face up to the nature of their opponent — not in the political realm but in the moral realm — they’re going to continue to have a hard time, no matter what electoral success may come next month.  You can’t fight an enemy unless you can name him, which is why the very first rule of my book is Know Thy Enemy.

FP: David Horowitz has exposed what Obama and the left are up to in Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution – The Alinsky Model. What do you think are the lessons of Saul Alinsky?

Walsh: David knows Alinsky, his methods, his motives and his goals better than anybody else alive who’s not named Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and his monograph on the subject is required reading for conservatives, especially if you can’t stand the thought of slogging through Alinsky’s turgid prose in Rules for Radicals to learn his lessons.  And what are those lessons?  That ruthlessness pays when you’re up against a demoralized foe.  That “by any means necessary” is not something to be ashamed of.  That if you batter long and hard enough against even the sturdiest castle’s walls, they will eventually fall when their defenders decide they’re no longer worth defending.  And that has been the triumph of the left these past 50 years — they have made western civilization seem not worth defending.

FP: What are the Left’s weapons that we should be fighting with?

Walsh: First and foremost, an unshakable belief in the rightness of your position.  The Left never compromises, except tactically, and never on principle.  They take the long view; they understand that the war between St. Michael and Satan didn’t end with the expulsion from Heaven — all that it did was give Lucifer (Alinsky’s dedicatee) his own counter-kingdom, from which to wage war on… well, us.  Having no sense of shame helps a lot, too.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    Walsh is dead-on. It's high time we conservatives begin appropriating the moral language of the Left.

    "Social justice" for example, can and must be redefined to include the rights of small businessmen and entrepreneurs of every race, creed and color who wish to prosper from their own hard work. It must be aggressively promulgated that being able to keep the majority of the proceeds of one's own hard work is a HUMAN RIGHT, and that excessive taxation is not just economically ruinous, it is a form of oppression, morally tantamount to theft.

    Similarly, "feminism" can and must be redefined to include the rights of long-suffering Muslim women, betrayed so hypocritically by the feminist Left who prefer to mollycoddle the misogynist culture of Islam. It can and must be CONSERVATIVES who become the standard-bearers of gender equality throughout the world.

    And so it could be on issue after issue…that conservatives more than anyone else represent the noblest aspirations of man.

    • Michael_Walsh


  • Lary9

    I was a student from 1967-1973 on the west coast and I happily returned east with a full beard and this very same impression…
    "…unvarnished, spiteful and hateful face of the hard Left, always so full of rage and unearned moral dudgeon, and it’s stayed with me…"
    It stayed with me too but I'm mindful that the Left is not a monolithic force, whatever you might think. Yes…there were plenty of obnoxious street hucksters in revolutionary clothing with no authentic raison d'etre but they were never in the true pulse of the liberal heartbeat. There still are honorable liberals from back-in-the-day that survived the Nixo-Reaga-Bush purges but I'm sure you're not convinced. To admit that would mean we'd have no reason not to sit and talk awhile about the world the way did back then.

    • davarino

      The thing you dont realize is that the old liberals dont exist any more. The "progressives" have taken over and the sane ones you speek of dont have any power or voice. How can you even pretend that this current bunch of "liberals" have any interest in maintaining the American ideal? They want to destroy it.

      Finally, someone who knows how to win this war. The conservatives/patriots have laid down and taken it to long. I totally agree that the rnc has played nice to the point I start wandering if they arent on the same side.


      • Lary9

        Grow a pair? Boy…I've seen more hair growing on the walls of this life than you've ever dreamed of as you sit at the computer reading FPM and acting like you're "hard" in the comments. Grow a pair indeed.

        • votedagainstoby


          Sorry, LIBERALS- ALL LIBERALS (And if you are a liberal by your OWN definition this includes you) ARE EVIL EVIL despicable beings.

          I won't dian to designate you "Human" because you are NOT.

          Not byin it any more pal. sorry Say hello to Lucifer or what ever name it is going by these days.

          Recognizing the enemy is the first step in defeating it. So piss off.

          • Lary9

            Duly noted.

        • davarino

          Sorry, I wasnt telling you to grow a pair, I hoping it was clear I was telling the republicans to grow a pair. Not sure what you meant by hair growing on walls though : )

          • Lary9

            Hair on the walls refers to an aftereffect of a 'sh*tstorm'.

    • Philosopherking

      Reagan was a democrat and quit because the party went bonco communist. Those liberals you talk about left and joined the republican party.

      • Lary9

        Or so Mr. Reagan thought as he performed his 20-Mule Team Borax anti-communist tour.
        Also, he was certainly a Republican when he ran against Jesse Unruh in California and after winning, he gutted the state library system—then started looting the only free college program in the country.
        In the 40 years since then, my tax dollar's diversion % to military operations went from 25% to 56%. There's your deficit/debt/credibilty problem in a nutshell.

        • Philosopherking

          What does that have to do with the fact he WAS a democrat? Voted for FDR and all that.

          I approve those ideas of gutting free govt programs.

          • Lary9

            I stand by this: I'm for cuts—but start with the 56% of every tax dollar earmarked for military affairs! We must compress our miltary footprint on the world stage or follow the Romans down memory lane.

          • Philosopherking

            I think that number is a little high.

          • Lary9

            Check with the budget office figures. Or just Google it and see how many economists on both sides of the aisle estimate that % on discretionary tax dollars spent on military purposes including veterans affairs. It's the classic economic testament to all western empires in decline going back to Rome. The army had the same smothering effect on the treasury of Rome as she declined. It is impossible to cut taxes across the board, keep spending on the military and reduce the deficit. IMPOSSIBLE. You can cut social programs all day incldg. SS and SUI and anything else and it won't make a dent…these are all straw men. If the top 5% earners don't get taxed at previous rates and the military budget doesn't get cut, forget about a serious approach to debt reduction.

  • Wesley69

    Gotta luv it!!!! A great interview!!!! Mr. Walsh's book is one ALL Conservatives should read! To beat the Left, you must play the game the same way & with the same tools! The objective is to save this country & its liberties. That is the morality of our cause!!

    I cringe when I think of how Bush didn't respond to the Democrat's charges of him doing nothing after Katrina. He did more than Obama after the Oil Spill. Bush did not fight back and his popularity plummeted. When Reid was saying the war was lost, that Defeatocrat got away with it!

    One thing about the Left, they can dish it out, but can’t take it. They cry the Republicans are mean-spirited.. Then, as usual, the Republicans back down. Alinsky taught by any means to achieve an end. Conservatives can do the same, within the law!

    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

  • sflbib

    "Politics is war by other means." — David Horowitz

    David Horowitz wrote a book, The Art of Political War, on the same theme. He criticized the Republicans for focusing on "playing fair" as opposed to the Democrats' focus on winning ["you don't get to govern if you don't win"]. "Where do Republicans learn to debate?" he asks. "In college debate clubs. And where do Democrats learn? In union halls and the streets."

    Then there is still the double standard problem Republicans face: how do you discredit someone the public doesn't expect to be moral in the first place? Clarence Thomas was crucified for allegedly talking dirty to a woman; a Democrat congressman [whose name escapes me] had sex with a page and was merely criticized; another ran a gay brothel in his house, and look where he is today.

    • Wesley69

      Sfbib, Conservatives need to learn the techinique of union halls and the streets. Sometimes you have to get dirty. Its as simple as that. As for the double standard, you attack the other side immediately for having a double standard and past transgressions, reminding everyone that the Left has few morals, then you denounce that individual for their lack of morality.

      • sflbib

        "…you attack the other side immediately for having a double standard and past transgressions, reminding everyone that the Left has few morals, then you denounce that individual for their lack of morality."

        We have found that this doesn't work. As I said in my post, how do you discredit someone the public doesn't expect to be moral in the first place?

        Lawrence Auster writes about it:

        "Conservatives commonly criticize liberalism for its double standards. But, as I have frequently argued, what conservatives see as the liberal double standard is, if seen from the true liberal points of view, really a single standard: namely, whatever drags down Western culture, whites, men, traditional male authority figures, the traditional family, the heterosexual norm, and so on, is good. Conservatives fail to see the liberal single standard, because they take at face value the various liberal slogans and positions, which often contradict each other, and they fail to see the deeper liberal principle that unites the various contradictory liberal agendas into one. That liberal principle is equality. Equality requires that the better off, the more successful, the more powerful, the more familiar, the ordinary, the normal, must be unjustly dragged down, and that the worse off, the less successful, the less powerful, the alien, and the strange, must be unjustly raised up; and of course liberals always define the West, whites, men, the nuclear family, etc. as the more powerful, the priveleged, and the normal, and therefore deserving of being brought down. Once this principle is understood, liberalism stops being a mystery and stops seeming contradictory.

        "…the constant double standard of liberalism can be seen as a single standard once we understand that liberalism is not pursuing equality as some abstract universal which is to be applied fairly in all instances. Liberalism is pursuing equality with a particular agenda in mind: to drag down everything positive or successful or superior or unequal about our own civilization. The God of the Bible claims truth and superiority; so he must be toppled. Whites are more successful than blacks; so their wealth and achievements and self-respect must be appropriated and diminished in order to raise up blacks. Traditional marriage excludes homosexual "marriage"; so its exclusivity must be ended. The Western literary tradition excludes pop junk; so pop junk must be included in the canon. Christianity is the traditional and privileged religion of the West; so it must be treated negatively while the alien religion of Islam is favored. And so on. But conservatives don't understand this about liberalism. They think that the equality of liberalism is meant to be applied equally and fairly to all parties, and when it's not, they accuse liberals of using a double standard. Yes, it is a double standard, from the point of view of the universalist, procedural equality that the conservatives believe in. But the conservatives don't understand that the liberals don't believe in a universalist, procedural equality (i.e., right-liberalism), but in SUBSTANTIVE equality, SOCIALIST equality (i.e., leftism). The double standard exists because it is a manifestation of a single, socialist standard: to bring down the West and raise up the non-West, to bring down the successful and raise up the non-successful; to bring down our own and raise up the foreign. Conservatives don't want to acknowledge this fully because it would mean recognizing that liberals are not their fellow citizens who ultimately share their belief in procedural fairness, but their enemies who seek their destruction. If conservatives recognized this, the right-liberal, universalist society they believe in would be over. So they complain about the double standard (i.e., about the liberals' violations of universal procedural equality), but they never understand that from the liberals' point of view, the double standard is not a violation of universal procedural equality, but the logical and consistent pursuit of a single, socialist standard aimed at de-privileging the West and empowering everything alien and hostile to the West."

    • Lary9

      Of course politics is war re-imagined—so let's get imagining harder!

  • guest

    More of the same "poor little conservatives, we're such victims of the nasty left, we're oppressed,." Please, conservatives have been in power formally more than half of the last 50 years, and the social conservative base has shaped policy for just as long, with the qualified exception of maybe 15 years, and even then they were highly influential. This is just ideological pump priming for the shock troops. It's also wrong on facts. The west won b/c of its moral superiority? Really? Well here's liberal Sam Huntington on that one:

    The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

    —The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order; Samuel P. Huntington; 1996; pg. 51.

    • Wesley69

      Conservatives that act like victims will naturally get steamrolled by the Left. As for the Left, you have true believers and you have wackos, just like us Conservatives. We are suppose to play by your rules. It becomes a different matter when the opposite team does something unexpected.

      The game is to score, to win. What do you on the Left offer – a government nanny state at the least – a leftist dictatorship at the worst. True Conservatives want limited government, individual responsibility & freedom.

      Sorry, Mr. Guest. I don't accept your arguments. And that statement by Mr. Huntington is true. But look at history, Mr. Guest, tell me where it is different! Power is the constant throughout history. It is to Saul Alinsky disciples. By the way, Mr. Guest. Come back any time and bring some friends. I love debates!

      All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
      Thomas Jefferson

    • Wideband

      "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted)"

      Very few? 56% of the people in South Korea who practice a religion are Christians.

      • Seek

        Christianity, like all religions, can be adapted to the needs of a particular culture. Christians in Africa or Far East Asia assuredly are not like Christians here. Keep in mind as well that Christianity originated not in "the West," but in the Bronze Age Middle East. I'll side with Sam Huntington.

        • Lonestar

          I read it in a book so it must true. Who made Sam Huntington God? Any adaption of Christianity is not Christianity, it's something else, most likely a cult.

          All cultures have struggled to gain power. You either rule or be ruled. Western civilization succeeded because it was focused on acquiring technological superiority. The West's technological superiority came from the protestant work ethic combined with self discipline, and a lot of good old fashion greed. Our weapons beat their weapons. If they hadn't, well you'd either be a slave right now or not exist at all.

          This is how the left explains away the great accomplishments of the West. It goes against their religiously held belief that all cultures, despite historical fact, are equal. So the only way the West could possibly have managed to reach such a high degree of accomplishment and have such a technological advantage over all other competing cultures is by exploitation and violence. As if all the other players in the game were peaceable little hobbits living in the shire at one with the earth, with no desire whatsoever of gaining power or becoming rich. What morons.

          The problem with self hating anti-white anti Christian lefties is they have that same old double standard. It's ok for MEs Asians, and anyone other than whites to initiate and prosecute a sustained and vicious program of conquest, just not whitey.

          Basically you are just another America, west hating, chomskyite.

          Just look at Darfur genocide. MEs slaughtering non Muslims by the tens of thousands and not one word of criticism from the left. It's pathetic. The left is pathetic.

        • guest

          good response to Wideband's nonsense. He should also be reminded that 56 % of South Koreans, on a global scale, is far less than even a few.

    • Ret. Marine

      You sir are full of bull-shale, the republicans, while they may have held the presidency, most assuredly did not have control of the Senate or the House as you imply for the most part of 50 years. Just because you spout these lies around here, don't make it the truth pal.

  • bdouglasaf1980

    "poor little conservatives" I hope that will be a historic phrase that we conservatives can someday laugh about.

    It is time to fight dirty with people who are very dirty. You don't win a street brawl by using the Marquess of Queensbury fighting rules. When they say something stupid use the old, "are you serious" line instead of debating them. Turn their childish ways right back on them. If they settle down enough to have a real intellectual chat load your guns and give them both barrels. Conservatives know they have the high ground. History has shown this. Charge forward and hit them in the gutters.

    • guest

      Fox news and the conservative movement are dirty defined. Hannity teaches a seminar in dirty 5 nights a week, you need a shower by the time he's done. Conservatives have no ideas, no moral center, just an obsessive desire to maintain power for white traditional christians. You will say and do anything in the service of that goal. Remember the southern strategy? That was the dirtiest, and, yes, a very effective. campaign of the last 40 years in domestic politics.

  • Tar_n_Feathers

    There's another factor in play that I think is worth mentioning. The Left doesn't just fight their war, they live it. For them the "revolution" is a 24/7 affair which they've integrated into their very existence. It takes more to get the Right engaged to such a degree. They have real lives, families to raise, jobs to go to, PTA meetings to attend and weekend barbecues to host. It's not an easy sell to insist that conservatives also need to pencil in political action into their itinerary.

  • Patrick Henry

    The institutions that convey knowledge and information are dominated by the Left (aka, collectivists). The supporters of liberty will not survive another generation of assault without retaking these institutions. 1) retake Congress and the Presidency. Defund all political front groups, like the Tides Foundation, the Ford Foundation, ACORN, SEIU, etc. who make full time activism possible. 2) retake the state legislatures and defund all state universities who prevent conservative professors from gaining access. 3) require K-12 standards that explicity teach free market capitalism and its companion philosophy of individualism in every public school. 4) businesses and individuals must boycott all leftist media until they go under. 5) Reform our finances: tie the dollar to gold and privatize the entitlement programs. Then we will have the advantage. If we fail to do any of these things, the invaders will remain going through a breach in the proverbial wall.

    • Lonestar

      You forgot about de-funding and eliminating all the "departments" and bureaus in the government that are fully controlled by the left. The Dept of Energy, Dept of Education, ATF, and especially the State Department.

      • guest

        "controlled by the left" Are you seriously that wacky? I mean, it should be a rhetorical question since you simpletons believe Obama is both a Muslim and Mao reincarnated but it boggles the minds of normal people that you nutcases swim among us. At least 50 % of conservatives have gone off the deep end. I think a lot of normal people are starting to regret winning the civil war. It would have been best just to let you bizarre creatures leave. You've been nothing but a pain in the ass ever since.

        • coyot3

          Of course, the U.S. has been leftist nation for long, long time. Only recently has this been even questioned. What do conservatives have to do with the War of Northern Aggression. That was about the constitution, and supporters of the constitution lost that war.

        • Patrick Henry

          You say conservatives are "wacky…simpletons…nutcases…have gone off the deep end…bizarre creatures." Yet you don't address my issue. Your use of jeuvenile rhetoric is revealing. Do you have something intelligent to say about capitalism and individualism compared to socialism and collectivism? Do you acknowledge that this is at its core a philosophical conflict based on different ethical codes: rational self-interest (i.e., the right to life, liberty and property), which is diametrically opposed to altruistic sacrifice for the needs of the collective (i.e., to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability)? If I seem crazy, its because I don't share your worldview. Its stunning that you equate philosophical differences as evidence of mental illness. Your view truly is totalitarian. This is the argument that you cannot win, thus the need to denouce us as either racist, corrupt, stupid or insane.

      • Michael_Walsh

        That is one of the Rules in my book: "Let the Dismantling Begin."

  • Guest

    "The right needs to learn to fight …"

    The right is represented politically by the so-called GOP which is, and always has been, a schizoid entity. There's a conservative wing and a RINO – or RinoCrat – wing which, ideologically, walks both sides of the street. The net result of this dichotomy is political impotence in the face of an ideologically ruthless adversary on the Left. Until this RINO wing and its RNC handmaiden's are excised from the GOP – or a new party evolves – there will never be any commited, effective, organized and durable political action against the Left.

    • coyote3

      The left is already losing, and it isn't because of Republicans. It is because of a new breed. Not actually "new". It is the idea that a government has limited powers. Powers limited strictly by those delegated by the constitution, and you are seeing candidates start to say this, and question even powers that the government has long exercised, albeit illegally. This is going to hurt Republicans too, because there is more delegated power there than people think, and a lot less than other people think. One thing sure, there is no "power" to provide for the general welfare. Tee hee

  • waterwillows

    You can not possibly win a war by joining the enemy. That is too weird to even imagine as any kind of a win.
    So there is call to adapt to 'their' methods and strategies? Interesting, I did not think they were hurting that much. But I guess they are.
    Not for me, is the logic and reasoning of the people who don't know which side is up. Their 'battle' to prove that they do know something, is more than evident in the world today. It is a royal mess.
    Do not be swayed off the path we are one. To lower the bar is a trick as old as the hills. To claim 'victory' is almost laughable when I can see how they scurry about wanting the oppostition to 'join' them. False claims of so-called superior tactics. Tactics that are laid before us this day. We have already chosen. And we are not upside down.
    Join them in what? Defeat?

  • Jim Johnson

    The current left did not win the last few elections because of any great cleverness or tactics. They won because the Republicans fell asleep at the switch and let the institutions the public depends on for protection go to pot. The country went to pot big time. Bush's fetish for keeping the borders open against all public opinion began to import poverty big time . The public became aware of his devious tactics in keeping the borders open while seeming to actually doing something. By 2006 the public was fed up and this was before the housing collapse was on the radar. When the big collapse came it installed Obama in office. The Republicans can think their lucky stars that Obama was so incompetent. It gave them a second chance.But it probably will be the last one as the Republicans have learned nothing from their mistakes. The Tea party was a great invention to enable Republicans to run again as a new reformed party.

  • mark

    The left has been winning the debate for some time. When the Tea Party, a good start for representative government, takes the bait and "defends" itself against charges of racism, it began playing on their turf. Instead of defending, it should have pointed out the painfully obvious; a bullying racist organization is what the NAACP has become. It will not defend blacks whose viewpoint differs from that of its collective. Those that would represent "true liberalism," need to understand that failure to point out the painfully obvious in one's opponent is to lose the argument; to defend against claims of wrongdoing that the accuser is in fact doing themselves it to commit political suicide.

  • aar33178

    A point must be made for making them pay a price for ANYTHING they do. The failure of conservatives has been not recognizing that the biggest Jihadists in the world are not carrying a Koran, but The Communist Manifesto. They are the most religious around us, except that it is religion without God.
    How are they a religion?
    Well, they have their God, Utopia, a wise and kind Big Brother watching benevolent over us. They have their miracles/ articles of faith, such as global warming, universal healthcare that covers all yet it costs less, a woman's right to choose. All of these have something in common: they are unprovable, yet accepted as, well, acts of faith. And they have their sacrament. Their sacrament is abortion, appropiately.Their faith is so strong that they are willing to sacrifice and have, in fact sacrificed tens of millions of lives (other people's, of course).
    Only when we realize what we're dealing with we have no chance. As far as I'm concerned, my limits on how to deal with these people are exactly one step further than whatever they do to us.

  • Steven Laib

    Someone who says fight and give no quarter. It is about time that America remembered that strength wins and weakness loses. I'm going to spread information about this book to everyone I know.

  • emmaliza

    I have read this book, and commend the style, which entertains and enlightens. What the last part of the book recommends is not to abandon our morals, but rather to finally fight for what we believe in. Everyone should read it….
    If you are interested in joining this effort, I'd also recommend D'Sousa's books, "What's so Great About America?" and "What's So Great About Christianity?"….He sets straight old myths that we all were told about the history of freedom and about the dichotomy of Christianity and evolution theory.

  • ghp

    read it, Mario…while the book is EXCELLENT, go back to National Review Online and read his columns as well–their historical truth along with the pop culture references [again–ALL true; satirical, but 100% TRUE] are stellar. you may 'friend' Kahane on fb, as well… link here:

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